A No-BS Guide To Finding The Best Ice Cream Maker For You

Don't get overwhelmed by all the choices out there. From Cuisinart to KitchenAid, these are our food editor's favorite picks.
<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-ICE-21CRM-Frozen-Yogurt-Sorbet/dp/B08Y5R23LD?tag=kristenaiken-20&ascsubtag=62b3519de4b0cf43c85f19bc%2C-1%2C-1%2Cd%2C0%2C0%2Chp-fil-am%3D0%2C0%3A0%2C0%2C0%2C0" target="_blank" role="link" data-amazon-link="true" rel="sponsored" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Cuisinart&#x27;s 1.5-quart frozen yogurt, ice cream and sorbet maker" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="62b3519de4b0cf43c85f19bc" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-ICE-21CRM-Frozen-Yogurt-Sorbet/dp/B08Y5R23LD?tag=kristenaiken-20&ascsubtag=62b3519de4b0cf43c85f19bc%2C-1%2C-1%2Cd%2C0%2C0%2Chp-fil-am%3D0%2C0%3A0%2C0%2C0%2C0" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="0">Cuisinart's 1.5-quart frozen yogurt, ice cream and sorbet maker</a> and the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Freeze-Cream-Ball-Maker-77349/dp/B008AK7YVU/ref=zg_bs_289924_49/137-0643487-9690630?pd_rd_i=B0B37FGRRD&th=1&tag=kristenaiken-20&ascsubtag=62b3519de4b0cf43c85f19bc%2C-1%2C-1%2Cd%2C0%2C0%2Chp-fil-am%3D0%2C0%3A0%2C0%2C0%2C0" target="_blank" role="link" data-amazon-link="true" rel="sponsored" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Play and Freeze ice cream ball" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="62b3519de4b0cf43c85f19bc" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://www.amazon.com/Freeze-Cream-Ball-Maker-77349/dp/B008AK7YVU/ref=zg_bs_289924_49/137-0643487-9690630?pd_rd_i=B0B37FGRRD&th=1&tag=kristenaiken-20&ascsubtag=62b3519de4b0cf43c85f19bc%2C-1%2C-1%2Cd%2C0%2C0%2Chp-fil-am%3D0%2C0%3A0%2C0%2C0%2C0" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="1">Play and Freeze ice cream ball</a>.

I’m the kind of person who loves ice cream so much that the freezer bowl of my ice cream maker has earned a permanent spot in my freezer. No carton of ice cream I buy at the store is as creamy or as fun as what I can make at home (if you’ve never mixed lemon bars or jelly doughnuts into your ice cream base, you haven’t lived).

I’ve tried several different models of ice cream makers in my years as a food editor, and most of them aren’t worth writing home about. If you want a solid option that’ll get the job done, I’m sharing a very short list of my top picks below.

I’m not going to recommend any ice cream makers of yore that require a bucket of ice, rock salt and a hand crank. Speaking from experience, those are more trouble than the nostalgia is worth. Instead, I’ve chosen options for a variety of needs, and explained all the pros and cons to help you make the best choice for you. Even if you’re terrified by the idea of cooking your own custard, you can just buy a container of yogurt and dump it into the machine ― you’ll literally have frozen yogurt in about 20 minutes.

Go start making your own frozen concoctions, and please report back in the comments with any ground-breaking flavors you end up creating.

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The standard option: Cuisinart 1.5-quart frozen yogurt, ice cream and sorbet maker
This pick from Cuisinart is an easy-peasy option that does all the hard work for you. If you can clear out some space in your freezer and remember to chill the freezer bowl about 24 hours in advance, you're on your way to smooth ice cream (or frozen yogurt or sorbet) in about 20 minutes. Once you've poured your chosen mixture into the bowl and turned it on, it produces a smooth, consistent texture with little mess. And it comes in lots of pretty colors!
If you're avoiding dairy: Yonanas
I wrote about my obsession with the Yonanas machine back in 2017, and it has only grown since then. To be clear, this does NOT make traditional ice cream. Rather, it turns frozen bananas into a creamy soft serve that'll really hit the spot when you want a frozen treat without all the dairy and added sugar. And you can toss whatever you want into the machine -- peanut butter, frozen blueberries, you name it -- and it'll blend it into your soft serve. Bonus: You don't have to store any parts of the machine in your freezer to chill!
If you already have a KitchenAid stand mixer: the ice cream maker attachment
If you already own a KitchenAid stand mixer, you can buy this handy attachment. Like the Cuisinart pick above, the bowl has to be chilled in your freezer about 24 hours in advance. Then you just lock it into your machine and your ice cream will be ready in about 20 minutes. It fits most 5- and 6-quart KitchenAid mixers, so just make sure it's compliant with your machine.
Great for kids: Play and Freeze ice cream ball
This option won't produce the smoothest results of the bunch, but it's a fun way for kids to learn how science works. Caveat: It does require rock salt and ice. The idea is that you can roll the ball around for 20-30 minutes, all the while mixing up and freezing your ice cream.
Another kid-friendly option: KiwiCo's "science of cooking" ice cream making kit
You will need rock salt and a few other ingredients for this culinary scientific experiment. The kid-friendly kit uses the process of creating ice cream to teach lessons about freezing, stabilizing and more of the chemistry that goes into creating delicious dessert.
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